Gap to enter Indian market; first stores to come in Delhi, Mumbai

American clothing retailer Gap will enter India next year in partnership with textile company Arvind Lifestyle Brand and open 40 outlets across the country as part of its global expansion strategy.

The brand plans to open about 40 franchise-operated Gap stores in India, the company said in a statement.

The first two Gap outlets are expected to open in Mumbai and Delhi by next year, starting with Gap's Summer 2015 collection for adults, kids and babies.

Describing India as an "important next step" in its global expansion strategy, the San Francisco-based company will enter the emerging Asian economy through franchise-operated Gap brand stores in partnership with Arvind Lifestyle Brand, a subsidiary of Arvind Limited.

"India is an emerging, vibrant market and an important next step in our global expansion strategy," said Steve Sunnucks, Global President of Gap.

"More than half of India’s population is under 25 and they are actively embracing fashion in today’s retail environment," Vice President of Gap Global Franchise Ismail Seyis said.

Seyis said India is one of the company's top 10 global sourcing locations and Gap has worked in an effort to build meaningful relationships with its vendor partners.

In 2007, Gap launched the P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement) workplace education programme in India with one vendor in two manufacturing units.

The programme offers female garment workers the life skills education and technical training they need to advance at work and in life.

Gap's entry in India is part of its wider Asia programme, wherein the company seeks to reduce its dependence on the North American markets by adding 110 new Gap stores to its tally of 231 outlets in Asia.

Notably, Gap is not the only US company banking on strong consumer spending by India's middle classes for its future growth.

Only last month, online retailer Amazon had announced to invest USD 2 billion in India to boost its operations in e-commerce market.

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